“I will aim to peak at Paris Olympics,” says Kishore Jena

Kishore Jena
Kishore Jena (PC: X)

Though he had shone at the national level, few outside the athletics world had heard of Kishore Jena before his stunning fifth-place finish at the World Championships in Budapest last August. Soon after, the son of paddy farmers from Odisha improved his personal best by almost three metres while pushing Neeraj Chopra to the limit at the Asian Games in Hangzhou. In this exclusive chat with Boria Majumdar, RevSportz editor-in-chief, Jena spoke of how last season’s feats are just the beginning. Excerpts:

Boria: In 2023, you achieved a lot, broke records, set a personal best, won medals. At the start of 2024, you had trained on the Gold Coast, Australia. Tell me about it and how the season ahead is looking?

Jena: I went to Australia because it was very cold in Patiala. I had good training there and have started this year much better than in 2023. So, let’s see. I am hoping it all goes well.

Boria: Tell me about the Doha Diamond League as in 2023, many people did not know you. But, this time, all eyes will be on you, pressure will be there.

Jena: I am happy that people have expectations from me. I am not taking it as pressure as my full focus is the Paris Olympics. I am looking to participate in these international competitions as the experience will help me do well in the Olympics. I do not want to commit any mistake in Paris. So, whatever mistakes are going to happen in the coming events, let it happen. I will rectify it for sure before the Olympics.  

Boria: Tell me more about the Olympics as people are realistically expecting medals from you and Neeraj Chopra in Paris.

Jena: See, after Neeraj Chopra’s gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics, people have started to expect. The overall state of athletics in India has improved a lot. You can clearly see the difference in the number of medals in the last two Asian Games editions.  India is moving in the right direction in sports and we just need to follow it as results are coming.

In javelin, more kids are coming day by day. Hopefully, DP Manu will also qualify and all three of us will be together, representing India at the Paris Olympics. At the World Championships, we were there together and it also helps in reducing the pressure.

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Boria: I came to know that in Gold Coast, Australia, a lot of Indians came to you for clicking pictures. So, how was the experience?

Jena: As I went there for the first time, not many knew much about me. Even the Aussie athletes did not know me. As I started my training, step by step, people started talking and I also met their coaches. As you said, Indian people also came to visit me. It feels good and even in India, wherever I go for training now, people come and click photos with me. It is really nice and works as motivation for me to do much better in upcoming events for my country.

Boria: How was the food in Australia?

Jena: It was good. It was not like that you will not get Indian food there. Overall, everything was good there.

Boria: Tell me in detail.

Jena: Yes, basic food at breakfast was like corn flakes, eggs, milk, bread. I can cook a bit, so overall, it was nice.

Boria: Any specific story from training?

Jena: There was a coach who knew about Neeraj bhai but did not know me. So, I had a chat with him and I said that I have qualified for the Olympics and won silver in the Asian Games. Then, he Googled it and was very happy. He also said that it will be nice to see if both the gold and silver medals go to India this time in Paris. It felt nice to hear that!  

Boria: Is there any plan that you have set from Diamond League to the Olympics? And before Paris, will you be training outside India or in India?

Jena: I will train in India, a place from where we are getting results. Step by step, I will aim to peak in these upcoming tournaments leading up to the Olympics.    

Boria: Physically, are you absolutely fine? In the National Games, when you had a throw of 78m, people were in shock. So, just clear it.

Jena: For any athlete, a peak season is limited. It is not possible for any athlete to stay in peak form for 5-6 months. Everyone goes through ups and downs. About that National Games, the season was over and before that event, I was wandering around for 15-20 days. I went to the National Games just for an outing, not to compete.

Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Jena in Asian Games
Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Jena in Asian Games (Photo: Rohan Chowdhury)

Boria: Fingers crossed, this year, can you set a personal best again, Kishore?   

Jena: Hopefully. I can. By God’s grace, everything will go smoothly.

Boria: What about the support from Odisha Government?

Jena:  Currently, whatever facilities are there in Odisha, I do not think such facilities are available elsewhere in India. Apart from supporting athletes, the Government have improved the overall infrastructure a lot.

Boria: Do you keep talking with Neeraj regarding training schedule and the others?

Jena: No, no. We have only normal talk, not abut training. 

Boria: What about the influence of Neeraj in Indian athletics?

Jena:  After Neeraj’s Olympic glory, things have changed massively, especially in Javelin. I believe, Neeraj bhai leads us! So much new talent has come up.  Hopefully, they will take India further forward.   

Boria: As you have already qualified for Paris, does it help in reducing the pressure and sorting out a proper plan for the main occasion?

Jena: Obviously.  Olympic qualification does create pressure. As I have already qualified, I train freely. If I had not qualified so far, I would have preferred the upcoming Diamond League. So, for me, currently, everything is pretty good and I can focus on the Olympics!

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